Name: Nikki Nik
Age: 30
Rank: Blue Belt
Number of years training: 1 year, 8 months

What got me into Jiu Jitsu was Rhonda Rousey!” When Nikki recounts her introduction to the sport, it all started in a Buffalo Wild Wings during UFC fight night. Plastered across a large LED screen, the former judoka Olympic great Rhonda Rousey was arm-barring opponents left and right. Admiring Rhonda’s aggressive talent and equally deadly application of the martial art, Nikki signed up for beginner BJJ the next day.

This decisive, immediate-action approach to life most likely stems from her subscription to Muhammad Ali’s words she has come to live by, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it!” From this foundation Nikki recommends to other women, “Just join! I’m telling you this is something you can get good at, build confidence in, and have for the rest of your life!

Despite her spirited drive to take action, initially she was apprehensive about another individual positioned on top of her. “When I first started and someone would take side-control or if they mounted me, internally, I would be freaking out, feeling as if I couldn’t breathe, almost suffocating.”

Nevertheless, she did what all warriors do and embraced the suck. “What I did, and what I do with any problem I encounter, was put myself in those situations intentionally during training. To me, this is really the only way to get through it. Put yourself into the uncomfortable, until you feel comfortable there.

Nikki also recognized that like most things in life, BJJ is a journey with ups and downs. To ensure she is prepared to counter the downs, she dedicates time to taking care of her body. She uses her passion for weight lifting to stay focused on a goal and ensure discipline in her diet. Both of which improve her Jiu Jitsu ability on the mat.

Other keys to her success revolve around her approach to progress, “I consistently roll with larger opponents than myself and I do whatever I have to every roll, to not let them pass my guard. If I can handle myself against a guy who is 60-80 pounds heavier and stronger and keep him from passing my guard or sweep him, then I feel confident going against anyone.

Nikki tries to focus on improving her guard game consistently. Initially, she came to Diego Bispo Academy from another MMA school where she had absolutely no concept of guard. “After three months at DBA I could effectively play guard against an opponent, something I never thought I would be able to do. I always thought of myself as only a takedown, top-position practitioner.

However, not everything came as easily. One off her biggest challenges was cutting weight for competitions. Cutting weight to fight in a lower bracket is standard practice across combat sports. Unfortunately, what is not standard is an individual’s reaction to rapidly dropping pounds. For Nikki cutting weight came at the expense of poor performance when it mattered, on the mat. So she made the healthy decision to compete at whatever weight her body performed most optimal.

For other women looking to up their game, Nikki also recommends attending a Girls in Gis event. Going afforded her the opportunity to learn solid technique from some of BJJ’s top women instructors. Equally as beneficial was the empowering feedback from training time dedicated to girls only.

It is hard to find a school like DBA, which routinely offers classes solely for women. “I love seeing women and girls training together who really want to learn and get better. In a male dominated sport, it is so amazing to see women in a gym kicking butt.

It is this sense of community and being around all the amazing adults and children at Diego’s that influences Nikki’s training the most and has fed her drive to compete and succeed. “There are so many women around the world that are killing it in Jiu Jitsu. My goal is to be one of those women!” There is no doubt Nikki is on her way.